That didn’t take long. What many of us predicted would be the next phase in the
destruction radical redefinition of the Southern Baptist Convention has now begun. With the unilateral appointment of a Name Change Task Force by SBC President Bryant Wright, the stage has been set for what will turn out to be one of the most divisive battles that the SBC has ever seen. Not content with taking control of the new North American Mission Board, the SBC elites are intent on dismantling the Southern Baptist Convention as we now know it. For those same elites, that is a good thing. For the majority of grassroots Southern Baptists, not so much. So much for the unity that was promised with the passage of the GCR. Funny how real hope and change don’t always match the politician’s rhetoric.
For anyone following SBC politics in the last two years (or in the last thirty years for that matter), this move should surprise absolutely no one. Bart Barber has accurately described Wright’s actions as an appointment “by fiat.” Even though the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention was apprised of this new Task Force, Bryant Wright has acknowledged that this is an unofficial committee:
“Obviously, this is not an official committee empowered by a vote of messengers
to an SBC annual meeting,” Wright said. “It is a task force I am asking to
advise me as president on whether this is a matter we should bring forward for
Whether or not the SBC Constitution or Bylaws confer authority upon a President to unilaterally appoint an ad hoc committee without the express approval of messengers in annual meeting is open for debate. However, there can be no doubt that President Wright has broken with past precedent and protocol. Kind of reminds me of another President who has broken just about every protocol in his two years in high office. You would think that something as momentous as changing the name of the Southern Baptist Convention — which has been voted on and rejected almost ten times, the most recent being in 2004 — would require some type of messenger-approved Task Force. If you think that in today’s political climate within the SBC, you would be wrong.
I asked recently when an “ends justify the means” mentality became the primary governing model for some within SBC leadership. Some opined this happened as early as the Conservative Resurgence while others pegged it within the last several years with the rise of second and third generation CR leaders, particularly following the death of long-time Baptist statesman Adrian Rogers. Whenever it may have started, the last two years — primarily with the GCR Task Force, the sealing of records, and parliamentary shenanigans at the Orlando meeting — have seen a spike in the use of hardball secular-type politics within the SBC.
I am not so naive as to believe that politics — even from 1845 — have not been a part of the Convention. However, what we seem to be witnessing is the use of political tactics that have heretofore been reserved for the world of government. In fact, I would suggest that some leaders within the SBC — either knowingly or “accidentally” — are using many of the same principles that the sitting President of the United States of America has used and continues to use in his effort to batter his political opponents. However, as an inconsistent Calvinist, I would say that I don’t believe in “accidents” or “coincidences.”
This post is not intended to speak to the merits of a name change. I’ll explore that issue in subsequent posts. For the record, I strongly oppose changing the name of the Southern Baptist Convention. If you thought I had strong words for the so-called Great Commission Resurgence, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Some will say that this is much ado about nothing. Many will argue that what President Wright has done is perfectly acceptable (although if Jimmy Allen were to have made a similar unilateral move circa 1978, all h*** would have broken loose.) A few will opine the responses of some bloggers (including mine) are nothing more than overreactions to a perfectly reasonable move by Bryant Wright.
That may all be well and good, but when cooperating conservative Southern Baptists see the radical (i.e., the opposite of conservative) steps that the ruling elites want to implement, steps which many believe will lead to the dismantling of the Southern Baptist Convention, then we cannot be silent. Indeed, before it is too late, we have a moral obligation to “stand athwart history yelling STOP!”